The Atascadero home decked out in all its Halloween glory is located at 7720 Cortez Avenue

ATASCADERO — Atascadero’s favorite ghoulish house — decked out in all its Halloween glory — is back again for another round of frights and delights. Seven years ago, Mark Russo Sr. decided to start decorating his home, located at 7720 Cortez Avenue, for Halloween. This year the spectacle will run every night from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. for the rest of October. 

The Halloween Spooktacular started when Russo, who used to teach Community Emergency Response Training, gave the faux-human props he created for drills a new life. The props already had gruesome injuries on them for his students to train with, so it only seemed fitting that they were his first step in creating his display.

“I just moved those guys in from one job to another. Instead of laying dead in storage, I put them to work as Halloween props. They work great, too. I have like 13 of them,” added Russo.


Russo said he’s spent several thousand dollars on lights, getting his display ready for October, and hundreds of lights are everywhere. In fact, he’s been working on the lighting since August. 

“I keep on adding lights every year. So there’s more lights, more colors going on, and I have the same special effects and the fog machines that I’ve been testing regularly,” he continued.

The Spooktacular display is truly something to be admired by the whole family, and spectators are encouraged to park in one of the designated parking areas and check it out on foot instead of driving by. 

Russo also asks people coming to look at his display to be respectful of his neighbors by not parking in front of their houses or the side of the road.

“Folks will be invited to walk through the event on Halloween night. That’s when all the special effects will be online. I’ll have some role players. There will be a werewolf dragging bodies and tearing them up and lots of fun crazy stuff going on,” Russo stated.

And though the Halloween Spooktacular will be turned on the whole of October, the special additions and the ability to walk through it will only be available the evening of Halloween, Monday, Oct. 31. While donations are appreciated, they are not required.

“You’ll walk through, and there will be props and other interactive effects that will be jumping up at you, and at you, and around you. There be all kinds of activity all over. There will be scary sounds and music and effects like that. The fog will turn the whole place into a scary graveyard. There’s a cemetery,” Russo added. “I like to scare the heck out of people. That’s something that’s been with me for a lot of years to see the reaction. It’s just fun, brings me back to when I was a kid. It’s how I found my youth. It helps me stay young.”

If you’d like to catch the Halloween Spooktacular with fog added to all the lights, Russo also mentioned that he’s been testing the fog machines roughly from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. most nights. If you want to ensure they will be turned on, keep updated by checking Russo’s Facebook page @Mark Russo Sr. ( 

“We get a lot of kids and parents and visitors every year. I mean, the whole street is loaded with folks visiting, and it’s really cool. It makes us feel really warm. We want to try to keep that Halloween spirit alive,” concluded Russo.